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Developing nations: First, find your 'green' energy, then develop it

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Muhammed Muheisen/AP/File

(Read caption) At the end of their workday, Pakistani truck drivers shower at a water reservoir on a roadside on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, earlier this month. Pakistan is one of nine countries partnering with the World Bank to map renewable-energy resources in the developing world.

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Pakistan’s Sindh province, where the Indus River slips into the Arabian Sea at the country's southern border, is hot. In winter, the monsoon rains that dance into coastal Pakistan soak the region.

This is a country that should be a wind and solar power hot spot. Instead, it is one where some one-third of the population does not have access to electricity.

But a new program from the World Bank aims to address the disconnect between developing countries’ abundant renewable resources and lagging progress in harnessing those resources to power economic development. Nine countries, including Pakistan, are set to partner with the World Bank in its Renewable Energy Mapping Program, which is putting $11.6 million toward the gathering of the hard data those countries need to pursue their ambitious sustainability projects. It's an initial step – though probably not a sufficient one – to push developing nations to choose renewable energy sources over fossil fuels. 

Electricity shortages and unreliable water continue to stifle economic progress in many parts of the world – schools cannot open; hospitals struggle; businesses fold; and foreign investment goes elsewhere. Some 1.2 billion people worldwide lack access to electricity, with just 20 countries in Asia and Africa accounting for some two-thirds of those people.


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